Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 101–138 | Cite as

Birthplace diversity and economic prosperity

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Johann Harnoss
  • Hillel RapoportEmail author


We propose an index of population diversity based on people’s birthplaces and decompose it into a size (share of immigrants) and a variety (diversity of immigrants) component. We show that birthplace diversity is largely uncorrelated with ethnic, linguistic or genetic diversity and that the diversity of immigrants relates positively to measures of economic prosperity. This holds especially for skilled immigrants in richer countries at intermediate levels of cultural proximity. We address endogeneity by specifying a pseudo-gravity model predicting the size and diversity of immigration. The results are robust across specifications and suggestive of skill-complementarities between immigrants and native workers.


Birthplace diversity Immigration Culture Economic development 

JEL Classification

O1 O4 F22 F43 

Supplementary material (2.2 mb)
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto Alesina
    • 1
    • 2
  • Johann Harnoss
    • 1
    • 3
  • Hillel Rapoport
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.IGIER BocconiMilanItaly
  3. 3.Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance
  4. 4.Paris School of EconomicsUniversité Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance
  5. 5.Department of EconomicsBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  6. 6.Center for International DevelopmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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